I returned home on evening of Sunday February 3rd, four days after my injury and three days after my surgery. On Monday we picked up some additional supplements that I needed and then on Tuesday I made up a couple of new formulations specifically formulated to address my injury. This is the protocol that I implemented at that time:
Homeopathics: I am taking Arnica 200C, Hypericum 200C and Symphytum 200C individually, four pellets per dose alternated throughout the day. The dosage of each remedy varies over time according to the following protocol:
- Week 1: Arnica 4 doses per day; Hypericum 4 doses per day; Symphytum 4 doses per day.
- Week 2: Arnica 3 doses per day; Hypericum 3 doses per day; Symphytum 3 doses per day.
- Week 3: Arnica 2 doses per day; Hypericum 2 doses per day; Symphytum 3 doses per day.
- Week 4: Arnica 1 dose per day; Hypericum 1 dose per day; Symphytum 3 doses per day.
- Week 5 and onwards (until my bones are completely healed): Symphytum 3 doses per day.
Herbs: I created three new formulations to address my specific needs:
- A systemic herbal formulation prepared from 1:5 fresh herb tinctures containing turmeric rhizome (Curcuma longa) 18%, common horsetail herb (Equisetum arvense) 15%, boneset herb (Eupatorium perfoliatum) 15%, St. Johnswort herb (Hypericum perforatum) 15%, American plantain herb (Plantago rugelii) 15%, common comfrey herb (Symphytum officinale) 15%, wild ginger rhizome (Asarum canadense) 5%, white pine leaf/twig (Pinus strobus) 2%. This formulation is a specific for healing damaged tissues and blood vessels, bone, and improving general circulation. Boneset and turmeric also have a significant tonic action on the liver which will help address any stress on my liver from the medications and other aspects of my hospital experience, as well as protect my liver from any toxicity from the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the comfrey, which is the best herb I know for healing bones and well worth the very slight risk of toxicity. Given that the comfrey will not exceed the 15-20% range in any of the formulations that I use and will be combined with herbs that can mitigate its potential toxicity, the likelihood of any toxicity is almost nil. Boneset and horsetail are also specifics for healing bone tissue. This formulation is taken in 6 ml doses three times per day on an empty stomach, 5-10 minutes before each meal.
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) is an excellent healing herb that is very effective for the healing of bone tissue.
- A systemic herbal sleep formulation prepared from 1:5 fresh herb tinctures containing English lavender flowering spike (Lavandula angustifolia) 20%, St. Johnswort herb (Hypericum perforatum) 20%, catnip herb (Nepeta cataria) 20%, American plantain herb (Plantago rugelii) 15%, hop strobilus (Humulus lupulus) 15%, turmeric rhizome (Curcuma longa) 9%, white pine leaf/twig (Pinus strobus) 1%. The dosage of this formulation is 6 ml immediately before bed and additional 3 ml doses through the night, as required. Getting sufficient sleep is one of my greatest challenges. I tend to be a light sleeper. I sleep on my sides and wake up four or five times a night feeling a bit stiff and change my position, flipping from side to side and then falling back to sleep fairly quickly. With my broken leg I can only sleep on my back. This is difficult for me because as a general rule I can't sleep on my back, and it also doesn't allow me to shift my position sufficiently. By half way through the night my lower back is very stiff and sore. Most nights I'm only getting five to six hours sleep, and that's with the sleep formulation. Occasionally I get a bit more. Getting sufficient sleep is critical to the healing process, so I made this formulation to help me sleep better. Notice that it contains a few of the herbs that are in my daytime formulation. This is to help continue to support the healing process through the night. It is also important that the overlapping herbs contribute to the sleep formulation. You will find few, if any, references to plantain having sedative properties, but it does. As a general rule, whenever someone is taking more than one herbal formulation concurrently, it is usually preferable if there is some overlap between the herbs in the different formulations. As in this case, the overlapping herbs must contribute to the desired actions of both formulations.
- A topical liniment made up of a base containing 1:5 fresh herb infused oils of pot marigold flower head (Calendula officinalis), Canada goldenrod leaf (Solidago canadensis), wild bergamot herb (Monarda fistulosa), coltsfoot leaf (Tussilago farfara), St. Johnswort herb (Hypericum perforatum), northern white pine leaf (Pinus strobus) and American plantain herb (Plantago rugelii). This infuse oil was prepared last year. The herbs are in descending order based on proportion as I am not certain of the exact percentages. To the base oil I added the following essential oils at an overall potency of two drops per ml of base oil: rosemary leaf (Rosmarinus officinalis) 25%, English lavender flower (Lavandula angustifolia) 25%, black spruce leaf/twig (Picea mariana) 15%, marjoram herb (Origanum majorana) 10%, eastern hemlock leaf/twig (Tsuga canadensis) 10%, Roman chamomile flower head (Chamaemelum nobile) 5%, yarrow herb (Achillea millefolium) 5% and eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) 5%. I apply this twice a day, immediately upon waking and just before bed, to the lower thigh, knee and half of the foot of my injured leg as my leg below my knee and half of my foot are covered by a tensor bandage. I also apply it to the hip, knee and ankle of my left leg, and my wrists, as these areas are being stressed in unusual ways due to using crutches.
In this photograph we have common plantain (Plantago major), an alien species that has naturalized throughout
North America, on the left, and American plantain (P. rugelii), our native species, on the right. Notice the
reddish colour at the base of the petioles (leaf stalks) of American plantain. Most people
(including herbalists) don't realize that these are two different species.
Supplements: I was able to obtain the additional supplements that I need over the course of the first week that I was back so that since about a week and a half after my injury I have been on the full complement of supplements that I need to help heal my leg. These supplements are very important whenever there is significant tissue damage, but they are particularly important for healing damaged bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, regardless of the cause of damage. I use a similar supplement regimen for the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Although there are a number of supplements available that are formulated for building bone tissue that contain some of these nutrients, I chose not to use any of them because I didn't like any of the formulations. All of them were missing important nutrients, had way too much calcium relative to the other ingredients, and most of them were compromised in some way by using cheaper, low quality ingredients such as magnesium oxide. As a result, I had to put this supplement regimen together using a fair number of products. Nevertheless, the importance of using all of these nutrients in the right balance can not be over emphasized. I have listed them here by nutrient instead of by which ones I am taking with each meal, as I did in the first post of this series, so that it is more clear what I am taking. All of these are taken with meals:
- Vitamin A: 3,500 IU with breakfast; 3,500 IU with dinner.
- Beta-carotene: 750 IU with breakfast; 750 IU with dinner.
- Vitamin C (calcium and magnesium ascorbate): 1,485 mg with breakfast; 1,360 mg with lunch; 1,485 mg with dinner.
- Vitamin D: 1,200 IU with breakfast; 1,000 IU with lunch; 1,400 IU with dinner.
- Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols, acetate): 115 IU with breakfast; 40 IU with lunch; 315 IU with dinner.
- Vitamin K: 60 mcg with breakfast; 80 mcg with dinner.
- Calcium (citrate, ascorbate, malate): 150 mg with breakfast; 135 mg with lunch; 450 mg with dinner.
- Magnesium (citrate, ascorbate, malate): 60 mg with breakfast; 60 mg with lunch; 260 mg with dinner.
- Zinc (citrate): 5 mg with breakfast; 25 mg with dinner.
- Silicon (aqueous horsetail extract): 4.7 mg with breakfast; 4.7 mg with lunch; 4.7 mg with dinner.
- Manganese (chelate, citrate): 0.5 mg with breakfast; 5.5 mg with dinner.
- Copper (citrate): 0.5 mg with breakfast; 1.5 mg with dinner.
- Boron (chelate): 350 mcg with breakfast; 350 mcg with dinner.
- Selenium (chelate): 50 mcg with breakfast; 150 mcg with dinner.
- Polyphenol complexes (flavonoids, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins and catechins from extracts of berries, citrus, grape seed and green tea): 325 mg with breakfast; 225 mg with lunch; 325 mg with dinner.
- Quercetin: 100 mg with breakfast; 100 mg with lunch; 100 mg with dinner.
- Lutein: 0.5 mg with breakfast; 0.5 mg with dinner.
Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are a very rich source of anthocyanins and flavonoids, including quercetin.
Some of these are ingredients from a multivitamin that I am taking with breakfast and dinner. It is a good quality low potency multi with an excellent trace mineral content. It does not contain iron. I did not list all of the ingredients of the multivitamin, only those that are important for bone repair. However, the full range of nutrients in the multi are important to support healing in general. Mostly what I haven't listed are the B vitamins and some of the other trace minerals. In addition, I am also taking omega-3 fatty acids in the form of organic flax seed oil, 2-3 teaspoons taken throughout the day mixed in food (but not heated).
In addition to the above supplements that I am taking with meals, I am also taking the following on an empty stomach three times per day 30 minutes before each meal:
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) 400 mg.
- Glucosamine hydrochloride 300 mg.
- Betaine 80 mg.
- Hyaluronic acid 10 mg.
Probiotics: Another one of the challenges that I am dealing with is constipation. It started with fasting from food and water for 16 hours before my surgery and was further aggravated by the intravenous hydromorphone and three courses of intravenous antibiotics that I was given through the night after my surgery. However, the ongoing issue is that I am spending a lot more time sitting and can't walk or run, which is important for good bowel tone. I am addressing this by taking a high potency probiotic supplement that contains 25 billion active cells of a combination of eight active strains of bacteria. I take this first thing in the morning in a glass of warm water with a tablespoon of whole organic flax seed. My bowel movements gradually returned to normal during the first week that I took this and I am continuing to take it on an ongoing basis.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus: An important probiotic species.
Exercise: This is another of my major challenges. The surgeon wants me to spend most of my day sitting or laying with my injured leg raised. This is not an option. It's bad enough that the muscles in my right leg are getting weaker. I'm not going to sit around and let my whole body atrophy. Plus, I have clients and students that depend on me and lots of work to be done. My life has definitely slowed down and there are many things that are too difficult or impossible for me to do, but I'm not out of commission completely. I have sit stations all over my house where I work, eat and rest consisting of a padded chair to sit on and a second chair with a pillow on it that I can put my leg up on. I have found that there is a delicate balance between sitting and moving around upright. If I do either for too long, the edema in my lower right leg gets worse.
Aside from the exercise I get moving around on crutches, every morning before breakfast I do an upper body workout with light weights and lots of stretching. I'm also working my injured leg as best I can. Whenever I'm sitting for periods of time I periodically massage my thigh and knee. I also wiggle my toes a lot and gently stretch the tendons and ligaments in my ankle and knee. In addition, I'm doing my best to work out my right knee and hip as best I can without being able to walk. To maintain some level of strength in these joints I do leg lifts from my hip raising my whole leg, and from my knee raising my lower leg several times per day for a few minutes. I also "pump" my leg while I'm walking on crutches by raising my leg and bending my knee on one step and then lowering my leg on alternate steps. As before I also continue to do deep breathing exercises in which I "feel" the life force or qi energy flowing into and out of my leg.
Diet: My diet is pretty good in general. It is almost completely organic and I get a lot of variety. My only concern is getting a bit more good quality protein. I have been a vegetarian for 33 years. Contrary to what some people believe, it is very easy for vegetarians to consume sufficient protein. Nevertheless, a good supply of high quality protein is necessary to heal bone tissue. Rather than bump up some of the typical high protein vegetarian foods such as beans or nuts which are harder on the digestive system, I have decided to increase my protein somewhat by eating one or two organic, free-range eggs most days. I have to strike a balance here and not eat too many eggs because for me eggs tend to be constipating.
So there you have it! This is the regimen I am following at this time. It is very intensive. I probably spend about 10% of my waking hours engaged in some aspect of this healing protocol. However, that's not bad considering I am still working at about 60% capacity instead of laying around like the surgeon advised me to. Also, with the exception of the intravenous hydromorphone and three courses of intravenous antibiotics that I was given through the night immediately after my surgery, I did not fill the prescription for painkillers that the surgeon gave me and only had to take a single dose of acetaminophen about 24 hours after my surgery. When I had the stitches removed, the surgeon prescribed another course of antibiotics and some anti-inflammatories. I didn't fill those prescriptions either. My intent is not only to stay relatively functional through this process, but also to make sure that my bones heal well and are strong enough to allow me to continue doing what I've always done. I'm also hoping to be able to start putting some weight on my leg a fair bit earlier than the three to four months that the surgeon predicted.
Overall, I have to say that the biggest challenge for me has been not being able to walk the land. In my normal life, every day I take my dogs out for about an hour and a half and walk the trails through the fields and forest where I live. Aside from the obvious benefits of the exercise and fresh air for the dogs and myself, it provides me with an opportunity to deepen my ongoing relationship with the land; to observe what changes are taking place; to stop periodically at one or more of my favorite sit spots and just be. I'm also missing the winter. Last year was the warmest winter I can remember. There was pretty much no snow. This year we are having a somewhat more "normal" winter. I am missing walking through the snow; breathing the cold, crisp air; feeling the wind on my face; the calls of the chickadees, goldfinches and nuthatches. At best a couple of times a week when the conditions are good I can put the spiky snow things on the bottom of my crutches, go out and sit behind my house by our fire pit and gaze out over the landscape. I really do appreciate those moments.
"The Land" in winter.
Most of the details relating to the protocols that I am using have been covered in these first two parts of this series. From Part 3 of this series onwards I will discuss any changes that I make to these protocols and provide updates on how things are progressing.